The health and mental health of disabled substance abusers

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In 1996 Congress terminated Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to individuals disabled by substance abuse. Although most were expected to continue benefits under another disability category, 64% were not reclassified. This article examines data from a longitudinal study of individuals in Los Angeles County affected by the legislation. While poor physical health predicted both continued SSI benefits and receipt of public income assistance, many individuals reporting significant mental and physical health problems were not reclassified and did not receive public income assistance, raising concern for their welfare. Local safety nets may become increasingly important for this population.